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|Interrogating the live :a DJ perspective
|This PhD is driven by practice-led research that interrogates the notion of ‘live’ performance in a mediatised culture. At its core it is concerned with the tension between body and machine. Argued from a DJ perspective the work addresses issues raised by creative tools and platforms currently being developed and distributed. Questions of digitally technologised and mediatised versus analogue creative media inform a position on the challenges posed by ‘remediated’ live uses of technologies, particularly as read against more traditionally held views of liveness. On the one hand, solo practical work directs an investigation into existing and emerging DJ technologies; negotiating a path between an analogue paradigm rooted in Turntablism and the virtual world of digital media. On the other, a series of collaborative projects explore the DJ as a ‘live’ ensemble player, confronting the paradoxical whilst gaining insight into contemporary conditions of musical creativity. The textual commentary provides a self-critical narrative of a personal research process informed by DJ practice and musicology scholarship. Questions relating to liveness are dealt with at the outcome of each stage of the process and critical positions devised. The practical projects are informed by several years’ sustained interest and empirical enquiry into improvisation with audio and visual materials. Included in this submission are a number of CDs and DVDs containing this work. Without wanting to initiate a detailed debate on the relationship between ‘theory’ and ‘practice’ my own position is that I consider the written element of this thesis – the references to cultural/media theory and writings by practitioners working in my field – as inextricable from the music making itself. Readings have influenced my thinking which has in turn affected my practice, and I have used practical enquiry to problematise what has been said or written in relation to my discipline. The practice/theory debate has gathered momentum since artists began bringing their research into the academy. However, a simple polarisation of a posteriori and a priori knowledge has a tendency to lead us in circles and, having fallen victim to many heated discussions concerning the relevance of theory to practice and how to resolve the problem, it is my own belief that the two sides cannot be separated. For that reason I have chosen not to engage with the debate in this thesis, as I believe that this would have detracted from the larger research aims of my project. On the topic of collaborative research - such as that carried out with John Ferguson in the Tron Lennon duo, for example - I do not consider my own contribution to be fifty percent of the work, instead I believe that myself and my collaborators have invested one hundred percent respectively, for each has had his own specific research agenda that happened to find its impetus in collaborative music making. Finally, given the critical context of mediatisation to the practical work hereinafter, some readers may be surprised to see photographic slides set to music as part of the documentation. Though it may seem incongruous the format serves to condense history, providing a narrative of the processes that encapsulate the work of the creative practitioner, processes that are often overshadowed by the product such as the sense of occasion leading up to a performance and the technologies or tools that facilitate the creative process.
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|School of Arts and Cultures
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